Monday, October 31, 2011

LotFP excitement and yet again OSR

Because I just bought Lamentations of the Flame Princess Grindhouse edition (not delivered yet, check out my last post HERE for more details) I started to try to find out more what it all is about. And what would be better place to do investigation than the authors own blog?

You can find the blog here: and should check it out. There are interesting posts what keep me entertained.

By reading the blog I have already had some good hints about (oldshool) gaming. Also other tips on gaming and even arranging games. There are also material for games to use or introductions on what kind of material you can buy in very affordable price from LotFP store.

Lamentations and Raggi are both liked and criticized. For some reason Raggi's stuff is what I find easy and entertaining to read and from games what make old games modern without loosing the essence LotFP is the most interesting for me. But as LotFP and all this OD&D and OSR and amazing adventures gaming is unfamiliar for me I kinda need more support for it. Forums aren't good to learn in my opinion but blogs give this one individuals views to observe. Of course this one individual might be wrong but it is for reader to decide if the blog is good or not.
I have read other OSR blogs also and found them great (you might find one or two from my blog roll, but I have read different posts about OSR bloggers from RPG Bloggers). But somehow as I am now waiting for my LotFP order to deliver I find LotFP blog more influental for that reason. Not to dismiss other blogs of course, but to start by focusing on one.

Different Games For Different Needs

I am so excited now and I think that my future of gaming will be in different kind of categories balancing itself with enough variation to keep gaming new and interesting. I think I am a drama player. It's my cup of tea most definately but sometimes it gets a bit boring. When you want more action. You can put action in drama focused games of course. One session is not about Vampires drinking (blood)tea but vampires getting attacked by [add thread here]. It works naturally (same rules, but Werewolf is all about kicking litterers' arse) but still it is not the same. Naturally you can also make combat oriented campaign for drama game (warring city in Vampire, Sabbat shovelhead gang, Werewolf pack against toxic stuff) but it is not same as picking up a game and showing it to your player(s) and tell: "now we play this one."

But sure you can use one game to run all these different types and genres of adventures? Sure. But I like variety. I like playing different games and sometimes make the adventure inspired by the game and its setting. But sometimes breaking the genre can be entertaining. Mix genres to get something new. It gets boring if every time you take your D&D players know what to expect. To keep things surprising and interesting you should do a little experiments every now and then. Maybe not too often if you don't want to go gonzo with it.

You might also want to try this little trick. Take adventure/module/campaign but prepare it for different game it was originally written. You might need to re-write some parts or make big adjustments to make it work, but you might make an unique adventure what is totally different than usually adventures and campaigns in that game. Vampire campaign in D&D Forgotten Realms or dungeon crawl for Vampire?

Cover Art Is Important

In my opinion game title and game front cover - or box if boxed set - has a lot of influence. You take AD&D 2nd edition Player's (warrior riding a horse) and DM's books (wizard battling a dragon) and I bet players have a way different idea what game will be about if you took 2300AD box (dude and chick posing with 80's hair-do and weapons in scifi desert). Same with more stylished games. Vampire: the Masquerade's  green marble with red rose tells different story than D&D 3.0 old magical tome type cover.

And what I said above I come to this. Lamentations of the Flame Princess cover is so neat! Just look at it. (That picture is from Deluxe version and the difference to Grindhouse cover I think is that Grindhouse has mild topless nudity).

You show that to players and say:
"Let's play this." Yeah. It's badass in totally different way that Dungeons & Dragons is.

Unfortunately I don't have much to say about the content yet. But when I get the box (and I got time) I will most definately do the "unwrapping it" post.

And about LotFP art, Something Awful has a WTF moment for it: (partially not work-safe, as there is lot's of gore and partial nudity from LotFP rpg viewed).

Any ways, I want my RPG cover art to show what the game is about. When I am choosing a game I will run next I look at the books what looks like I could use if I don't have clear vision what I want to do next. If I have a clear vision what I want to run I of course pick up the setting or rules to suit my needs best. As we talk mostly about Flame Princess here, that cover is different from Dungeons & Dragons 3 (we already talk here). It gives different vibes. By cover D&D 3.0 (well, also 3.X) is about making characters better and using characters to do quests. It's all about characters, what they can do. But LotFP looks like badass action. Not action in game mechanical way, but badass "this is cool" way.

I can run D&D how I like (when I started playing 3.0 I didn't focus and I didn't DM it I did Storytell it) from tactical minis combat to conversation filled drama. But still, the cover has a huge impact on what kind of game I want to use the game in.

Well, of course there are the rules and settings. What matter also. But... And if I want to run drama I pick up the book with possibly lighter rules. But in the other hand rules don't matter me that much. I can play several sessions without rolling a single die. Or I house-rule. Make over complicated rules easier or strip rules. Or make too light rules a bit more comprehensive.

Why LotFP Suddenly?

So, why I post about LotFP so much? Because I am OVER EXCITED about it. To be frank even V20 Masquerade didn't make me this excited. I don't know much about LotFP and best information is the actual product.

Would I have bought LotFP if it wasn't so good deal past weekend? Yes. Some day but not now. Even though I have considered getting a copy of LotFP this was an impulse purchase. Saw email with cupon code and other great deals. Immediately made an order. Forgot to ask my gf about it and hoping she doesn't be mad about it (gotta go buy some horse stuff for her today to make hobbies even).

I do have free Grindhouse PDF's somewhere in my harddrive though. But I don't like to read PDF's that much and because LotFP is a boxed set it is not the same thing.

So, this ranting is useless and repeating as long as I don't have the actual product in my hand. So, next post about LotFP will be unwrapping.

LotFP- Had to get mine & Thoughts about OSR

First product I bought from LotFP store was Zak Sabbat's Vornheim: the Complete City Kit (buy it HERE, it's cheap and cool). Then this weekend when I checked my email inbox I had this email from LotFP...

Code which provides -20% for list price (LotFP grind house 20€ with this offer).
Free shipping.

What did I do? Ordered immediately!

The offer is no more, but hey, go buy it anyways! With (currently) only 32,50€ you get:

• Tutorial Book (96 A5 pages) Introducing the Basics of Role-Playing
• Rules and Magic Book (168 A5 pages) A comprehensive reference for playing the game
• Referee Book (96 A5 pages) Tools for campaigns and adventure
• 7-piece Dice Set
• Character Sheets

See, I do like OSR stuff. I didn't play D&D or other games now concidered as OSR. It was not my thing. But now as I am growing older both in physical age and how long I have roleplayed I've become more and more curious about OSR.

I do have my own "oldschool" period of gaming. But I don't find it that nostalgic. Basically it was just learning to play and it is just a base for how I play now. If I'd go back to my oldschool gaming it would be just not as advanced how I play now. But still similar (if we forget really early days with random encounters character's die before they get first level).

I have played AD&D 2nd edition when it started to be old-ish because I wanted to play something older and that was a game I had*. I think I've mentioned it dozens of times that in the first session we continued the adventure but switched the rules (to Praedor).
*Actually, I've played Runequest, Stormbringer, Rolemaster, MERP etc. old games but in my opinion AD&D 2nd was still the old fashioned one!

Anyways, then way much later I wanted again try out something more basic what our games usually are not. D&D 3.0 was our choice (not that long ago). It was fun. But I had to strip rules to keep it relatively quick and fun. And we didn't use miniatures so there were plenty of rules what weren't necessary anymore. It was fun, but not oldschool enough. It was just like playing this time fantasy instead of horror or scifi. Fun, but not what I wanted.

What about dozens of free-to-download OSR PDF games? I have plenty of those but haven't found the one I'd like to use. There are actually really cool ones. Some fast and simple, some really detailed with thick rulebooks. But still, something was missing from those. Maybe the fact I am not OSR gamer because I don't have history so from these D&D/AD&D/T&T clones I cannot find the one that ticks.

But Lamentations of the Flame Princess has been one game I've been really curious about. I think it is oldschool but with a little different touch. Also I like how monsters are. They aren't stats you try to remember to be better next time you encounter one or dozen of them. No, in Lamentations of the Flame Princess monsters are unique and that way more horrific. I do like that. Also, I like horror - a lot. And LotFP is bent in the horror direction.

LotFP has it's small unique touch as I am not a fan of generic fantasy with elven and dwarven and heroes and bad guys. It was fun when a kid, but today I want more. Actually I went and bought Ravenloft Campaign Setting for D&D 3.0 to make D&D more interesting. I also got Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (have read novels earlier) but didn't even open it. Too boring.

I am not sure what kind of setting LotFP has, or does it have any. But I already have some ideas how to use it. I'll use some ideas from Ravenloft and will also use Vornheim tool kit.

Maybe coming dark winter gets some dark weird fantasy.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween gaming!

Well, it is not Halloween yet, but this Saturday is close enough. So this post is about Halloween stuff. Let's start with a song, shall we.


So, soon about to start gaming Vampire. Instead of normal session continuing the main story, I'll pull a Halloween session. One or more little stories and plots depending on how it goes. Nothing written down or planned.

Maybe urban legends is a good start. I thought that as player character is a Nosferatu there might be albino alligator in sewers. Enchanted with Tzimisce blood and crafts. Deal with it, as RSPCA cannot.

Also ghost stories are cool. Hitchhiker who disappears from the back seat. I'll use that one also.

Halloween is a night of spooks and it also shows in World of Darkness. More spirits around. Masked killer would be bonus.

Window Decoration

This is window decoration set I bought from store today. Actually art is really cool and well done. Two piece set with a mummy and pumpkin-man.

They are lurking me while I type and Gamemaster.

Bram Stoker's Requiem

Found this cool text from Vampire: the Requiem sourcebook Ordo Dracul.

"Even so, it's a bit of coincidence, and the Ordo Dracul has been searching for evidence of supernatural tampering in Stoker's life ever since his novel first saw print. While true evidence eludes them (and talking to Stoker directly became impossible once the novel saw print, as members of the other vampiric covenants maintained constant surveillance of the author until his death 1912), one very interesting fact points to Stoker having sources beyond those available to normal mortals. He was a member of the Golden Dawn, an occult organization that dabbled in theosophy and Tarot - much like Ordo Dracul itself."

- Ordo Dracul, page 26

Also Ordo Dracul has really, really awesome cover art. It's well done and classical in vampire's appearance.


Interview: Sami Koponen, Finnish game material writer and a gamer

I already have interviewed Finnish roleplaying games designer Ville Vuorela from Burger Games
and it was a success. It gave me inspiration and courage to interview other people who are
publishing or otherwise active in Finnish gaming.

Second in my mind was Sami Koponen. Sami Koponen is Finnish roleplayer, active member of
Finnish roleplaying community and also author of roleplaying material.
You can find Sami's website and blog here:
Sami   also   writes   news   for   Finnish   roleplaying   games   site   Roolipelitiedotus:


Let's start with Efemeros. Efemeros is a published book slash magazine and there are already 
two episodes. First is compilation of roleplaying articles and second unofficial Praedor 
sourcebook with both rules and gaming reports and other Praedor related articles and 
material. Efemeros #2 about Praedor was more successful than the first one. Do you think 
that the key for the success was that you  handled one of the most popular roleplaying game in 
Finland Praedor in it?

Well, success is relative. Efemeros #1 had smaller print run and I wasn’t able to push it to dealers
too well, so naturally the actual number of sold copies was lower. Still, I do think that gamers found
a sourcebook far more interesting than a collection of RPG articles. How did Praedor itself affect
the success is a tougher question. I decided to make a Praedor-supplement in order to gain more
popularity for the supplement, yes. But would an indie-sourcebook been even more successful, if it
was for Dungeons & Dragons or for Heimot? Maybe. Maybe not.

In any case, it seems that there’s a small market for supplements in Finland. Unfortunately everyone
seems to be too busy publishing their own games. Supplements are good stuff in many ways.
Has your Praedor Efemeros had some impact that you know of in Praedor players' gaming?
Feedback from any Finnish rpg publication is scarce at best. I’ve heard of couple of groups, who
used the material published in Efemeros, but I don’t know if it changed their play style. After all,
Efemeros #2 was a collective supplement, so it’s most likely that any group using it would take
some ideas and discard others. Of course, if anyone reading this has used Efemeros in their Praedor-gaming, I’d love to hear about it!

About your gaming history. How did you start playing roleplaying games, what games did you 
play and how? How is your present gaming style different from the early years?

I think I got the idea of roleplaying from my big brother’s friend, who had roleplayed (I don’t know
if he was active gamer). Then a friend of mine bought RuneQuest, and off we went. We were like
ten year olds or something, so rules, setting and whole consistency of the gaming were wacky, but
the idea of shared imagined space carried us.

After the initial “proto-roleplaying” the actual games played were Stormbringer (4th edition) and
Cyberpunk 2020 (2nd edition). I was mostly the GM, but did get to the player’s seat as well.
Stormbringer was our basic fantasy adventure game without any reference to Moorcock’s fine
novels. We didn’t have any metaplot either, just an adventure after another with the same characters.
Besides making my own adventures, I also used any adventure I could get my hands on from other
game lines or from rpg magazines. Cyberpunk had its share of plotting, but characters also ended
dying quite fast after crossing major corporations. I seem to recall that the
game had some serious issues in firefight rules.

These days in my gaming table adventure has lost its ground to drama: The focus is in the
characters, their duties and their relationships and in all the moral conundrums rising from that.
Still, I haven’t abandoned adventure gaming for good. I’ve played several ten-or-so-session
campaigns of RuneQuest and Praedor within a year.

Go ahead, read my whole personal rpg history from my blog
( (editor's note: this site is in Finnish, but you can easily use Google Translate or
other software for other languages.)

You have tried out several different games and gaming styles experiencing for example how 
games run directly as those are presented in the book. Do you think that games give players 
most of it if you play them "straight from the text" or do you think that game material is just 
a toolbox gaming group can use for their own scenarios, worlds and campaigns?

It depends on what you want from your gaming. If you’ve found your way to play and wish to stick
to it, surely you should use games as toolboxes for your style. But if you are interested in trying and
learning new ways to play, discovering new gaming styles, then it’s a good idea to follow the game
rules as is. I myself tend to fall in the latter group, but I’m very aware that it’s not for everybody.

What is your ultimate favourite roleplaying game and how has that changed you as a player?

My Life With Master by Paul Czege, no doubt. The game blew my mind back in 2004, when
Arkkikivi translated it in Finnish. The importance of relationships, simple and effective dice
mechanics, strong emotional content, end game phase… it’s all there and more. I haven’t played the
game excessive amounts and it’s not the best roleplaying game per se, but it had a major impact on
me. Simply put, it showed me that rpgs can offer so much more than mere adventuring.

About Finnish game industry today. It seems that there are more published and upcoming 
games in past few years than ever before. You read constantly about new projects in Finnish 
forums. Do you think that Finnish gaming is at its peak now? What about future? Will in few 
years publishing get slower or is Finnish game publishing growing?

Well, I surely hope this is not the peak, because you can only go down from a peak! Seriously
speaking, while it is true that we have more Finnish rpgs published than ever before, I think this is
mostly because it’s so easy and cheap to publish your own game these days. Finnish game
designing as such hasn’t progressed all that much during the past decade.

It seems  that there are game designers  who are determined to keep on publishing Finnish
roleplaying games, so certain continuity is likely. However, the high numbers of publications are
achieved through new designers. If we are going to see more people publishing their first game is
anyone’s guess. I’ve seen enough to know that forum discussions don’t automatically turn into
published games.

Aside from publishing, I’m more worried whether anyone actually plays these games. It would be
distressing to find out that folks buy Finnish rpgs just to support the game designer, without any
intent to actually play the game. These aren’t books to be read, these are games to be played!

In big world many roleplaying games are going into PDF download business but still in 
Finland printed products are most common. Will this PDF publishing boom catch also 
Finnish roleplaying games industry?

I think it will as soon as someone can produce good and cheap PDF readers. It happens within a
couple of  years is my guess. At the very least I think we’re going to see several projects that use
this new medium.

Then again, there are clear signs of bibliofilia in our hobby. People publish their game just to create
something concrete and gamers buy rulebooks just to feel them and see how nice they look like. As
the gamers’ mean age rises, they also have more money to buy artefacts ie. classy books.

In your opinion, how do you support Finnish roleplaying hobby and what influence do you 
have in it?

By gaming, mostly. I often try to introduce new people to roleplaying. I also support the scene with
filling the ether with game blogs, forum discussions and gaming reports in order to spread the word.
Distant second are publishing projects, my own or helping someone else.

I estimate that during this year I’ve played with maybe twenty people new to roleplaying. If even
two or three of these pick up roleplaying as a hobby, I’m happy. I also hope that my newest game
Pyöreän pöydän ritarit (
) would shed some light into Finnish game designing, but we’ll see. As there are only a few ways to
see any concrete results, I really don’t know my actual influence.

Tell about your future plans. What will you publish, what games or gaming material are you 
working on and will there be more Efemeros? And do you have any plans to publish 
something in English to see does if your ideas catch also others than Finnish gamers?

I actually don’t have any big plans now. I’m looking forward to get to run more games to newbies,
does that count? I do have an idea of a free, short, PDF-formatted rpg, but everyone has ideas. Even
Efemeros is ice-covered at the moment. I was supposed to publish a collection of Ropecon scenario
contest winners as Efemeros #3, but somehow I don’t think that kind of product would find its
audience. It might be rightly said that at the moment I’m more interested in supporting existing
games and hobby projects than publishing anything new.

This English-thing springs on me from everywhere. I’m mostly not interested. I like to focus on
Finnish rpg scene instead; there’s lot to do here. I also doubt that I would have much to say to
English-speaking audience. My gaming stuff is really not that original. The influences go in the
other way: I’m more interested in localising some cool ideas from English rpg scene than trying to
rebound those ideas back at them. Eero, who helped me in designing Pyöreän pöydän ritarit, has
some ideas of the game’s English version, but we’ll see if anything of that ever realizes.

As a publisher and active hobbyist, what advises would you give for starting game writers?

Stay focused. Think about what your game is about and then design all the rules, setting,
mechanisms and whatnot to support this goal. This doesn’t have to mean a single narrow theme.
Likewise, think about why you are writing a game in the first place. If it’s just for fun, do you really
need to publish it? If it’s something for yourself to play, do you need to publish it? If it’s something
someone else has already done before you, do you need to publish it? Publishing is a whole new
project besides game designing, so I’d advice to do it only if your goal requires it.

I'd also like to remind of the supplements. It might be a good idea to get your feet wet by writing a
supplement for an existing game: a sourcebook, an expansion or a scenario. There you have
something to inspire your own writing while still leaving room for your own innovations. The
mother game gives your product some initial popularity as well. Writing a supplement is an easier,
low-risk option well worth of considering.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Reviewing: Ye Booke of Monstres for Call of Cthulhu

Liked re-writing my Vampire: the Masquerade review in the last post, so I thought I'd continue re-reviewing games. This original review I wrote is from 2009 for forum.

Ye Booke of Monstres - The Aniolowski Collection, Volume 1

Ye Booke of Monstres kansikuvaSourcebook for Call of Cthulhu introducing a bung of monsters from a selection of authors inspired by H.P.Lovecraft's work and Mythos. Author of this sourcebook tells that some of these Monsters aren't official Mythos entities but they fit in the world of Cthulhu. Monsters from this books are collected from 70 years of novels and short stories and different writers.

This is a thin book with only 59 pages + a few extra including index. The cover is dark and pretty cool although the art is a bit amateurish. From distance it is great but when examining the details you discover it.

Book is with soft covers and black and white illustration. Layout is lame. Every monster within includes a picture and monsters are divided with big headline and a line what shows pretty well where one description ends and the next starts.

Most of the illustration is similar to Call of Cthulhu rulebook illustration. Monster pictures are a bit scruffy. Illustration isn't that sterling although you can get a picture what the monsters are supposed to look like. I really like the fact that every single being is illustrated when you realize how strange and multi-dimensional some of Mythos beings can be. Points for the effort even though some of the monsters look more hilarious than insanity eating. But it is hard to draw something what is four dimensional, unspeakable and defies all physical laws. 
Olentoja ja hirviöitä

There are plenty of creatures. 69 total. You can do the math yourself. If there are 59 pages for creatures and 69 of them the descriptions cannot be that broad. Also when stats are included for everything here. This is the weakest link in the book, not enough information. Too many monsters tucked in a too small box. Most of the monsters only get few sentences for description.
Usually motives of creature or location is totally missed when information tells usually that monster attacks immediately and fights 'till the end. Also because some monsters are too mighty to fight with rules the stats are just for their ego boast.

I am bitter about this. Now the book is more like monster manual giving combat stats for monsters instead of actually adding more into Mythos and strangeness. You get a picture, stats, small description and that's it. Rest is totally up to the Keeper to use that monster in his adventure. In my opinion Mythos needs more monster information what doesn't tell the stats but how you can use them in your game.

Also for some reason there are plenty of human like monsters with big earlobes who look more like new age science fiction beings than monsters. I personally don't like them.
For Gaming

Even though the books lacks all the interesting information - actually describing the chreatures - it might give inspiration and variety for core books monsters. Problem is, that the Keeper don't get story seeds to use these. He gets combat stats but creating the adventure still depends on the Keeper. I like descriptions what give ideas how to use things. But if your gaming group is bored in ordinary Mythos monsters in core book, this might give small addition from other authors to check out. Although I don't have much of experience about Call of Cthulhu sourcebooks I bet there are better investments to put your money into to get more abominations to use in your games.

Some of the monsters are lame and stupid but there are few I really liked and actually got adventure seeds around certain monsters. Creative Keeper can make adventures from anywhere, so for those this might be a good inspirational source.
 Final Words
Plenty of new Mythos creatures but unfortunately short descriptions. You get stats but not what you really want to use. Thin and fast to read. Cover is not that bad and picture of every monster is great bonus. This could have been so much more. With more information about creatures or narrowing some of those to release more space. Some of these are really stupid.
I am not sure would I like this more if I was familiar with books these monsters are in. You know, saw it on book, get the stats. But for me who is unfamiliar for the fiction behind these this is waste of time. Oh, not so. There are few monsters I actually got inspiration to build campaign around. So it isn't throughout a bad sourcebook.


1 for not providing enough information about monsters.
3 because cover is kinda neat and every booger is illustrated
1½ because I got few inspirations.

1½ final points. You don't need this. If you got almost every single Call of Cthulhu sourcebook, you can buy this. Or if you get this under 5 dollars, consider this. This doesn't change your CoC experience.

Review: Vampire: the Masquerade Revised

This is actually a review I wrote back in 2008 for Finnish roleplaying games forum. I use it as a base for this new review, but modify some parts of it according to today and how I feel Vampire: the Masquerade now.

Short History Of Me And Vampire: the Masquerade

I bought V:tM in late 90's, because I already had Vampire: Dark Ages what I myself enjoyed but my gaming group wasn't that interested in. Main reason was that my group was mainly into fantasy and V:DA was too close being fantasy but it wasn't fantasy enough.
So when I heard about Vampire: the Masquerade and saw it in my local gaming store I decided to buy it. It was set in modern world what made a huge difference. The current version was Revised.

I ran few games and chronicles with it but still my group was more into fantasy so I couldn't play it as much as I wanted. I did know a gaming group who played mostly V:tM but didn't like those guys. You know, later goth Sabbat freaks!

When I met my current girlfriend she got into Vampire gaming and I have played chronicles over 8 years regularly with her. It is our most played and most favorite game. I managed to Storytell and invent chronicles and plots even though I only had the core book. It took many years when I bought my first sourcebook to spice up my gaming.

Vampire: the Masquerade is my ultimate favorite of roleplaying games, and this is the review of it.

Vampire: the Masquerade

A Storytelling game of personal horror.

Vampire: the Masquerade is a game what divides opinions from awe to hate. When the new "edition" of it, Vampire: the Requiem, was launched Vampire: the Masquerade was not forgotten. 20th year edition is a proof of that.
Some of the Vampire players did go with Requiem and never looked back. Some tried the new but decided soon enough that old classical Masquerade was better. New to White Wolf's Vampire are most likely to pick up Requiem, as it is the one in print. But there is still curiosity towards the original 90's gothic punk horror game.


In addition that the book is really stylish with its marble like green cover and simple but catchy logo it is also quite durable. I can say that I have read the book numerous times and its been in darkest corners of earth and used a lot, but still it is in good shape. Only small problem is, that the binding is a bit loosen. Otherwise, it is in really good shape. I could say that the book is really durable.

Prologue: A Gathering of Beasts

Like every White Wolf product, also Masquerade starts with fictive story. Before each chapter there is one page fiction, but in the beginning the story is almost like a short story. Also in the back there are basically two short stories. The last is one page but entertaining and in rules there is also a story about a Vampire in different ages from history to today. It introduces World of Darkness in vampire's point of view.

These stories give nice additional information about Vampire. They are entertaining to read and generally well ridden and usually give individual's view on things what makes them good material to get into the thoughts of vampires. Some of these stories might be suggested for player to read to get a feel. Stories focus on a certain clan you can give for a player to read who is going to play that clan.

Only little problem is that some of these stories have a really messy font. It makes reading a bit slower and you might focus more on the font than actual text.


The first actual chapter, the introduction covers quickly and roughly playing of Vampire: the Masquerade, basics to storytelling and the difference of Storyteller (Game Master) and a player. After that the chapter covers some real world myths about vampires to World of Darkness facts about vampires. Also basic vampire activities like feeding (drinking blood), embracing (making a vampire) and other basics.
Also the book is covered from which chapter you find which thing. How-to-use-this-book guide and also different sources for inspiration are covered from books to movies.

Also LARPing Vampire is quickly covered, but there are no real rules how to LARP (Mind's Eye Theater is for that).

For Vampire elder this chapter is a bit unnecessary but for a fledling it is good information to get an overview what Vampire: the Masquerade is about.

In my opinion maybe the most important part in this chapter is telling the differences of pop-culture and mythical vampires against World of Darkness' view about vampires.
Chapter One: A World of Darkness

This chapter focuses on the setting of World of Darkness and in vampire society, hierarchy and customs. Text is well written and focuses on what is important. There is not too much struggling to get a nice overview of each thing covered. Naturally in core book everything cannot be covered, but this is a good base to get started.

There are no rules or any other mechanics in this chapter. Just fluff and setting text. Vampire hierarchy, what prince is, population, rules of the Vampire society and other basic things are covered but mostly in Camarilla view.

But as these things are explained densely some topics leave questions. It might annoy a Storyteller who wants to know anything but in the other hand it leaves space to fill the holes yourself. It depends what you like and in numerous sourcebooks these details are mostly covered with detail. For a core book this is good basic information although in some parts as a starting Storyteller there were topics I would wanted to know more about.

There is also Lexicon what White Wolf uses. Encyclopedia of words vampires use. Nice detail White Wolf uses to give additional depth for both characters and NPCs to use in dialect.

Chapter two: Clans and Sects

Basically clans are the character classes of Vampire: the Masquerade what you choose when creating a character. Each clan has their own weaknesses, set of disciplines they learn easier, motivations, backgrounds and view of other clans. Clan descriptions are stereotypical but easy to pick up for beginner players. Advanced players can think out of the box and create characters what aren't what clan description says.

For example it is easy for new to Vampire player to pick up between Brujah the gang member, Ventrue the businessman or Toreador the artist. Advanced player might create a Brujah artist, Ventrue gang member or Toreador businessman.

In my opinion it should be more clearly stated that these are only stereotypes, not character concepts. I don't know how many have played or plays clans as told without experimenting with individual characters in the clan. I know I did.

There are three sects. Camarilla what gets most of the attention, Sabbat what leaves too many questions open because of it's different views and is almost unplayable in a more deep way and the Independents, who are clans not following Camarilla or Sabbat. Also Camarilla clan member might be part of the Sabbat and vice versa.

There are total of 13 clans and caitiff. Caitiff is basically your custom vampire. Clanless. There are both disadvantages and advantages for being a caitiff. Mostly disadvantages are in the story, not in rules. Most of the clans are in Camarilla, only two in Sabbat and few in Independent. Although Sabbat does have antitribu members who are individuals from clans belonging in different sect, but whole antitribu concept isn't explained that much.

There is no enough information about clans and sects. I can understand it, but deeper political game is hard to achieve with the information provided. This is when sourcebooks about sects and clans kick in. If you don't want to invent everything yourself, you are going to need these books.
   The variety of these 13 clans is good. Every player can find their own (stereotypically) from figters (Brujah),    businessmen (Ventrue), aesthetic artists (Toreador), sneaky assasins (Assamite), wizards and magisters (Tremere), monsters (Tzimisce), classical sewer dwellers (Nosferatu), cultists (Followers of Set) and so on. Also some bloodlines are introduced for slight variation what usually is about starting disciplines but there is no meta data about these.
Chapter Three: Character and Traits

In default character creation starts figuring out what kind of character you want to play. Background as a human, how he was embraced and who did it. What motivates her and so on. To make this easier there is a list of questions player can answer about her character. When the background is done the technical character chreation begins.

After choosing a clan what determines weakness and starting disciplines character creation is really straightforward, simple and fast. Attributes and abilities (skills) are divided each in three categories from which player chooses what is first, second and third to get different amount of points to divide between those. Attributes are physical (strength, dexterity, stamina), social (manipulation, charisma, appearance) and mental (intelligence, wits and perception). There are total of 30 skills. There are also backgrounds what give different advantages for characters like higher generation, famous sire, fame or wealth. Unfortunately list of backgrounds is in my opinion too short in core book.

Disciplines (the supernatural powers of vampires) get three points to share to and they are determined by clan of character. Some changes for initial disciplines can be made though. Last touch is to spend few points into conscience (or conviction for most of Sabbat vampires), courage, humanity (possible path for Sabbat) and so on.

None of these are marked with a number, but coloring balls. Fours spent points to driving skill means four colored balls. Each ball represents one die to your dice pool what is covered in rules mechanically. Character sheet is simple but stylish.

Further in this chapter skills are introduced what they mean and examples of how they work and what different values represent how good character is in that skill. Every skill has few sentences of fiction.

For normal character range of attributes is 1-5 (exception Nosferatus who cannot get any dots to appearance). Each attribute starts with initial value of 1 (except Nosferatus with ugly face). Skills are in range of 0 not learned to 5. With higher generation higher values might be possible.

In skills there is a small problem though. Some skills are not covered at all, and some are a bit too focused on a certain thing. This serves genre and how Vampire is meant to run but I have had several situations where there is no skill to use in a certain task. Fortunately there are new skills introduced in sourcebooks and players can invent their own skills if they will.

In the end of this chapter there are mechanics directly for playing a character and experience section. Experience points are mostly achieved from good roleplaying, characters personal advancement and advancing in adventure or chronicle. There are no experience values for looting or killing, but experience is more abstract. With experience points player can advance his characters attributes, skills and powers. The price depends on the category and how many dots there already are. Skills are cheapest to advance and disciplines outside of clan are most expensive.

Last you have freebie points to share where ever you want. Also you might get freebie points from flaws or spend them in merits described in appendix.

Chapter Four: Disciplines

Disciplines are vampire's supernatural powers what distinct them from mortals (well, in addition to needing blood, being basically immortal, unable to walk in sunlight and other vampiric characteristics). Disciplines are part of vampire blood so some of them need bloodpoints to trigger. Blood points can be gained more from feeding. And if you get low on bloodpoints, you get hungry and might fall in frenzy - vampiric uncontrollable rage. Bloodpoints might be concidered as some kind of magic points if you will. In addition some disciplines need willpower to be spent. Willpower is mental strength what you use to trigger certain disciplines, get automatic success or to resist some disciplines used on you. You get willpower back playing according to your character or possibly one after each session if Storyteller says so.

There is wide variety of different kind of disciplines each with five subcategories. Each dot in one discipline opens new powers character can use from that discipline class. Many traditional vampire powers are included like mind control, turning into a wolf, inhuman strength, supernatural haste and so on. Also some clans posses magic like disciplines like boiling another's blood.
Some of these disciplines are shared by different clans, but some disciplines are clan specific. One small problem with descriptions is that you need to read a bit to find what exactly the discipline does and how it works mechanically. In my opinion this should be more clear.
Chapter Five: Rules

Basic mechanics of the game are fitted in only seven pages. These seven pages mostly include how you roll dice. More advanced rules like combat are followed after this chapter. Only function of this chapter is to introduce the dicepool mechanics. The basics are fast to learn though.

Rules are really simple. When character tries to do something Storyteller tells what attribute and ability (or other character trait) is used and dots in these tell how many dice are rolled. Only dice game needs is D10, but you need plenty of them. At least 10 (per player if you want) to make playing comfortable.

The basic difficulty is 6 and each die result of a 6 or more is a success. More successes you get the better the outcome is. Faster you fix the computer or more damage you possibly deal. Results 1 decrease successes. If there are no successes at all but one or more 1 you botch. Something goes horribly wrong. If you have a specialty in skill (four or more dots, get specialty for beneficing in a certain situation) you can roll results 10 again (note: I have houseruled this. You roll 10 always again, specialty gives bonus die).

If task is more difficult, the target number needed from rolls is higher. For example 8 or more. In easier difficulties target number is lower. A rule of thumb is that if difficulty is equal to character's dicepool no roll is needed. Exception combat of course. 

Even though system is fast and dicepool is fast to determine as is successes, there is a flaw. Basically better you are and more dice you roll the higher change is that you get those unwanted ones.

Chapter Six: Systems And Drama

Chapter goes deeper in rules with combat. Base is same with basic mechanics. You roll Attribute + ability against a difficulty to hit. Extra successes after the first one give bonus dice to damage dicepool. Damage is determined by these bonus dice and weapon damage dice or in melee weapon damage and strength. You roll as many dice as you have damage and results over 6 are one point of damage. After damage is resolved opponent might have a possibility to soak damage with his stamina, armor and Fortitude if he possesses that discipline. The remaining is how much damage is dealt.

In my opinion Requiem basically does this better. In Masquerade to get a resolution of shooting with a shotgun you first roll to hit, then you roll damage with possible more dice and then opponent rolls to soak the damage. Three rolls with lots of dice in each. Player might have dicepool of 8 to shoot with shotgun and when he gets 7 successes, he can add 6 to damage. Shotgun does 8 damage so now player rolls 14 dice from which you count over 6's to actual damage. And then soak roll is rolled to determine how many successes decrease the damage. For a Storytelling game a bit too clumsy in my opinion.

Remaining of this chapter is for damage rules. Different types of weapons deal different types of damage. Bashing for blunt, lethal for bullets or sharp objects and aggravated for vampires from example fire. Also vampires soak damage differently than humans. Vampires and human characters do share exactly the same health bar, but still shooting the vampire most likely does less damage than shooting a human. Little extra to remember.

Also rules for mental health and conditions are covered and enviromental lethality as fire, electrocution and falling.
Also some technical stuff about embracing a vampire or making a ghoul, but these are more fluff than mechanics. Vampiric uncotrollable rage and fear of fire are also covered here.

Chapter ends with game example what tells in detail how different actions work.

Chapter Seven: A History of the Kindred

Longish few page story vampire telling of history from middle ages through world war to this day. Interesting and well enough written but basically unnecessary information. It can give some ideas for character history and it might give depth for World of Darkness but you can survive without it. Short story in between.
Chapter Eight: Storytelling

For Storyteller possibly the most important chapter. How you run Vampire: the Masquerade? What kind of adventures and chronicles you could run? What about the plot? How to make a good adventure? This chapter answers these questions giving adventure seeds to use. Most of the adventure seeds are good enough to build whole campaign around. Nothing is pre-written though. These are mainly for inspiration. No actual ready to run adventure.

Chapter Nine: Antagonists

This is the "monster" section of game. It lists different organizations and even other supernatural beings with stats and descriptions to use in game. For me this is a little waste of time and space, but if you quickly need stats for a biker gang member of agent, you got it. Also wrights, mages, werewolves, changelings and others are introduced but the information is so narrow you can hardly use them except as a punching bag. Of course as all these other supernatural beings have their own rich in detail game line it would be hard to include information here.
So, if you want to fight a werewolf, here are stats. If you want a plot with mages, you better go and buy Mage: the Ascension to use.


For advanced players appendix provides moral paths instead of humanity for characters who don't fallow humanity any more, but instead a different moral code of vampires. There are several different paths with their own different moral codes. These might be hard to play for beginners but can give more depth for advanced players.

Also merits and flaws to buy in character creation. Merits are advantages you spend points to, flaws are disadvantages you get points from.


So, what Vampire: the Masquerade is? A neat book, good enough system with a bit too clumsy combat resolution... there are flaws and it is not perfect. I think that it is the setting that makes the book great. Requiem might be a bit better in some parts of the mechanics, but the setting is what you like or don't like. Vampire: the Masquerade is blamed to be too complex in setting with too much information to even tangle itself with it. I find that there is plenty of sources to choose from. But as this is core book review and not Masquerade setting review, I'll leave it to that.

Even though Masquerade has been died for some time the 20th special edition tells it is still liked. It still has fans. I am one of those people who love Vampire: the Masquerade. 

It might be that fledlings might be hard to "get" this game as Requiem is more modern in system and obviously easier to obtain. But if you forget the rules and availability you have two different settings. World of Masquerade and World of Requiem. That is what you choose between. I choose Masquerade.

4 points for how it looks. It is neat book with decent art. Some of the pictures are horrible though, but that is what roleplaying games usually get.
3½ points for rules. I like the basic concept of rules but combat is a bit too complicated. Although the game is easy to custom and house rule, so 4 points would be good also. Also you some meta data leaves you cold and you basically need sourcebooks. But as I review the game as it is, 3,5.
5 points for fun. I have played Vampire: the Masquerade a lot. I have enjoyed it so much. I have had great drama, lots of laughs, and dreadful tragedy in games. Players are the ones who make the game but I think that Vampire has been the inspiration.

4½ points total. Might be unfair to give this high score, but it's how I feel. For a game, 3½ is the score. For what Vampire is for me, 4½.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Things I like in pop-culture relating to rpg's

Started my work day and while working I started to think about different things I like in pop-culture what are related into roleplaying games or my roleplaying hobby. Now I am sitting down taking my coffee break and thought: Why only entertain myself, why don't blog about it. So, here are things I like in popular culture what are related into roleplaying games or my roleplaying hobby.


Yeah, I had to take this one first, because Vampire: the Masquerade is my favourite and most played roleplaying game ever. Vampires in it can be almost anything: monstrous, animalistic, sophisticated, artistic, warriors, gang members, business men, devil worshippers, traveling gypsies, arrogant, repulsive, repenting, embracing the darkness...
If you are new to Vampire you can easily pick up a clan with its stereotype to determine your character (businessman Ventrue, biker Brujah, artist Toreador) and if more experienced can do characters thinking out of the box with unlimited possibilities. You can play political game or territorial war game. That makes both Vampire game and Vampire characters awesome.

I also like monstrous vampires (30 Days of Night, Against the Dark). They can also be easily used in Vampire games but also make good villains in other games. I do also like Count Dracula styled vampires.

But I don't like all these now so popular vampires. Good example is Twilight. Hate them. I also don't think all those gothic vampire pictures what I found really lame. You know, every Youtube Evanescence fan video has those gothic vampire chick pictures.

Giant Robots

Every boy loves giant robots what fight. I had Battletech strategy board game and liked it. I am not sure did me and my friends ever understood the rules as they were a bit complicated, but it was fun. Also Mechwarrior PC games are cool with those big destroying war machines.

Japanese robots are also cool. They are usually more sophisticated and fast than their American warmachine brothers. For example old PS2 game Zone of the Enders is really cool. You fly and duel in the air in fast based combats.

Also Transformers are cool. I did have those cool toys and comics. Also at least first of the new movies is really great. Others are cool but not that good.

I like heavy and clumsy machines of destruction, sophisticated and fast mechas and robots changing from vehicles to battling bots.

I don't remember playing any roleplaying game with giant robots nor owning one. I have to correct that. Heavy Gear is really interesting one.

Solo Tough Guys

Guys who do all neat stuff basically solo are awesome. Steven Seagal movies are awesome and I own bunch of them. Basically Steven plays same character with minor changes all over again but that makes his movies safe. You know what to expect and you get it. Also for example Machete is awesome. I remember having both Grindhouse movies (Death Proof and Planet Terror) and in one of them was this Machete trailer. I didn't expect to actually see Machete the Movie in real but I thought the "fake" trailer was really neat. When I found out that there actually will be Machete movie I was thrilled. Well, the movie could have been a bit better, but it is Machete!

That kind of things I do like and also use in roleplaying games.


Zombies are probably the best monsters ever. They are really versatile and can be used in every possible setting and campaign. Post-apocalypse, Caribean seas, space, fantasy dungeons, your backyard. Also because there are different kinds of zombies from slow idling corpses (original Resident Evil video game zombies) to fast running zombies (newer zombie movies). You cannot forget also different zombies with special qualities to huge monstrous size (Left 4 Dead video game).

All Flesh Must Be Eaten is the roleplaying game you have to mention when you talk about zombies and roleplaying games. Infinite Deadworlds and several possibilities to custom make zombies from cows to nearly intelligent hunters.

Even though mutants are different from zombies I find some similarities with the most advanced zombies. For example Hills Have Eyes clan could be easily done with AFMBE to give a different approach to a similar game campaign.


I love cars. From powerful muscle cars to exotic tuning cars. My enthusiasm to cars started with Need For Speed Underground and continued to a point where I started to build my own car. I had to buy second car so I could build the first one. I also have used tuning cars and culture as one of the main themes in Vampire: the Masquerade chronicle.

Movies here would be for example Fast and the Furious series. Also tuning culture with street cars from garages, shows and magazines are to be checked out.

Unique Monsters

Monsters just being statistics you can beat to gain experience (looking at you D&D) is nothing wrong. It's one genre. But I am more fascinated in unique monsters what are truly monsters because you cannot find them around every corner. That makes them more terrifying because after you killed it and learned it's weakness you cannot use same tactics again because every monster you encounter is different one.

Even though in Call of Cthulhu there are several monsters what are not unique (deep ones and Mi-Go for example) they have a certain feel, as you don't just run through every campaign killing same monsters all over again. Of course the fact characters are near helpless against them makes a big difference. And there are many "monster of the campaign" entities you can build your whole campaign around.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess also is great example here. I have read the free version and like everyone knows there are no monsters listed as every monster player characters encounter should be an individual. That's cool. Similar thing is with Praedor. There are basic stats for different sizes of monsters but every single one of them are individuals.

I love monsters in movies also. In horror movie if there is a monster, it's way cooler than the guy from school who stabs others. World of Darkness sourcebook Slayers should be mentioned here.